All staff at Nottingham Castle Trust have officially been made redundant following the appointment of Interpath Advisory as joint liquidators.
Forty-seven workers have lost their jobs as a result of the closure of the trust, which ran the Nottingham Castle museum and heritage site on behalf of Nottingham City Council. Many of those workers are likely to be ineligible for redundancy payouts having only worked there for a short period.
Museums Journal understands that around 15 workers on zero hours contracts have not been paid for work undertaken since 15 October. According to one worker, this has left some unable to pay their rent and forced to take out emergency loans.
The workers have been told they will need to receive a code from the liquidators in order to apply to the government for payment of the wages owed, a process that could take some time.
Many of the workers on casual contracts had only been recruited within the last three months.
Museums Journal understands that staff were given no advance notice of the closure, but were summoned to a meeting off premises on the morning of 20 November and told they were losing their jobs with immediate effect.
There are indications that the trust had been in financial difficulty since early 2022. In a letter to staff seen by Museums Journal, the trust confirmed that it first contacted liquidators in February 2022. No formal agreement was entered into at that time and the trust was subsequently able to secure a supplemental grant of £200,000 from Arts Council England.
A Nottingham City Council spokesman said the council is working with liquidators on a package of support for workers. He said: "The staff were all employees of Nottingham Castle Trust and we, the Nottingham Business Improvement District and others, have sought to work with the liquidators to put in a package of support for the people affected."
The spokesman told Museums Journal that the trust owed the council £2.68m in debts and loans, which will now be written off.
The council had stopped funding the trust before its closure. "As a council with a duty to provide best value to local taxpayers, we could not continue to provide financial support when there is no prospect of a financial return," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the museum's collections, which remain in the ownership of the council, are currently being cared for by staff from the council's museum service. He said: "Curators have already made suitable arrangements to ensure these collections are safe and safeguarded until future management arrangements for the castle are put in place."
The council intends to reopen the venue as soon as possible. The spokesman said: "Once we have a clearer picture from the liquidators, we will explore all available options together with our key partners the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and others to develop a fresh business model.
"There is a real commitment from all parties to see this important cultural asset fulfil its full potential for the city and the wider region as a successful visitor attraction."
It has been confirmed that Tim Bateson and Chris Pole from Interpath Advisory have been formally appointed as joint liquidators.
In an announcement this week, Interpath Advisory said: “The castle had recently undergone a programme of significant renovation and refurbishment works, and while visitor numbers were rebounding steadily following reopening in the summer of 2021, volumes were still below forecasts, which placed pressure on cashflow.
"While the trust was in active discussions with stakeholders to secure additional funding, these discussions were ultimately unsuccessful. After considering their options, the trustees took the difficult decision to seek the appointment of the joint liquidators."
The statement continued: “As a separate legal entity which solely operated in the grounds of the castle, the directors of Nottingham Castle Services Limited concluded that following the closure of the castle to visitors, there was no viable alternative to liquidation and made an equally difficult decision to take the necessary steps to appoint joint liquidators.
"The majority of the employees of the trust were made redundant in advance of the appointment of the liquidators, and all remaining staff have been made redundant with effect from today [28 November].”
Bateson said: “Immediately following our appointment over the trust, we disclaimed the various leases and operating agreements back to Nottingham City Council. Whilst the castle is now back under the control of the council, we will be working proactively with them over the coming weeks to ensure that there is a smooth handover to give them the best possible chance of being able to reopen the castle at the appropriate time.
“We will also be providing support and assistance to the employees to enable them to claim any outstanding statutory entitlements which they are due, as well as working to realise the remaining assets.”
The liquidators confirmed that no refunds will be made to people in relation to advance ticket bookings, annual passes or booked events.
They have advised individuals to notify the liquidators of any amounts that they are owed by writing to email@example.com.
Interpath Advisory has been contacted for further comment.
If you have been affected by events at Nottingham Castle Trust and would like to share your story in confidence, please email firstname.lastname@example.org